Thursday, 20 June 2019

munker-white illusion

Though these spheres seem to come in three colourful varieties, David Novick created this optical illusion by exploiting a neurobiological factor known as lateral or antagonistic inhibition—the ability of a stimulated neuron to calm its neighbours so as not to overload the sensory system. Objectively, all the spheres are shaded identically and are a uniform brassy colour. The whole trick, impossible to unsee otherwise and probably not advisable to try, is broken down layer-by-layer with some philosophical musings and more examples at Bad Astronomy at the link above.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

i've got two chickens to paralyse

Although the typographical inconsistencies would have personally driven me to distraction before I could manage to encode anything, we admit that were impressed with the counter-measures that a song lyrics repository employed to catch cheats who might copy their stenography work and publish it as their own.  Subtly (or not so subtly to those sensitive to such things) naturally scattered through the verses, the transcript alternated between a typographic, curly style (’) and a typewriter style (') according to a protocol that resulted in, converted to the dots and dashes of Morse Code, the message “Red Handed.” This method of copywriter protection is in keeping with the cleverest trap streets and mountweazels but no party is can really claim legal rights as librettists and brings into question what service that they were providing in the first place.


The German speakers have penchant to create vocalised acronyms rather than the tendency in English to use initialism (apronym) and turn those into something pronounceable—like scuba, radar, NATO or the USA PATRIOT Act —as in GroKo (Große Koalition, Grand Coalition) or Abi for Abitur, school graduation or more familiarly Flak for Fliegerabwehrkannone, anti-aircraft guns and Gestapo for die Geheime Staatspolizei.
Once the practise becomes too pervasive and trivialising and needs to be dialled back a bit, one might call another out for carrying on with the title term, the strange mania, habit of shortening words, itself abbreviated Aküfi. One mostly encounters Abkürzungsfimmel in technical or industry jargon—as in AküFiBw (Abkürzungsfimmel Bundeswehr, soldier talk).


Via the always excellent Kottke, we are delighted to be introduced to the Allusionist podcast with their milestone one hundredth podcast and the hosts taking a moment to reflect on a hundred fun facts about the (mostly) English language they’ve acquired whilst doing the show.
We’ve run into mountweazels, mondegreenspolari and nominative determinism beforehand and we were equally gobsmacked to learn that the CARE in care package was an acronym like scuba or radar but there are plenty of gems to discover, like the analgesic properties of swears, the French society of constrained writers or the origin of bankruptcy, from the Italian banca rotta, “broken bench.” Check out all hundred of them—the short hundred, that is—five score as opposed to the long or Norse hundred of six score, which was called twelfty, at the links up top and consider subscribing.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019


t-minus: the Apollo 11 mission in real time using historical mission footage, via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals

scrip: garbage cryptocurrency from a garbage social media company isn’t crypto at all

that yorkshire sound: hand-drawn animated short illustrates an every day, vibrant soundscape

carissimi auditores: after a thirty year run, Finnish broadcasters are ceasing their news in Latin segment, but no fear as the report gives other resources

deaccessioned: a large auction house will no longer be publicly traded as it goes into private hands

:“For Want of a Hyphen Venus Rocket is Lost” – programming is unforgiving 

keep britain tidy

As much of a focus-steeling, attention-grabbing sideshow Brexit and Theresa May’s leadership were her desired legacy and commitment—bringing the UK’s carbon contribution down to net-zero by 2050—is pretty admirable and make up for what she made everyone endure, notwithstanding a predecessor even more repugnant who’ll try to change course, though enshrined in law, it will be tougher to rescind.
Before leaving office nearly thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher made a similar pledge, urging a global treaty on climate change and enacted policies to protect the ozone layer and curb acid rain. Would that all rubbish politicians had such redeeming potential. Although there’s quite some rough terrain yet to cover to attain that goal and admittedly we all ought to be in a better place by now, courtesy Maps Mania, we should pause and consider this interactive essay, chart and timeline from Carbon Brief illustrating the progress that the UK has already made in overhauling how it gets and uses its energy, an achievement encapsulated in the record-setting span of time that the country has gone without having to resort to coal. Records are made to be broken. Much more to explore at the links above.